On October 13th, a bill increasing protection of intellectual property, namely, the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2007 (the “PRO-IP Act”) was signed into law by President Bush.
The Act increases civil and criminal penalties for piracy and counterfeiting and creates a national “IP czar” who will be appointed by the Senate. The Act also enhances the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) power to enforce IP rights by authorizing law enforcement agents to seize property from copyright infringers.
The Pro-IP Act was a bi-partisan effort and passed without opposition in the Senate; nevertheless, there was extensive public opposition to the bill based on what were viewed as overly harsh penalties. For example, an early version of the Act would have increased the statutory damages available for infringement of a single 12-track CD from $150,000 to $3,750,000. After much criticism, this provision was removed from the bill.
Regardless, some public advocacy groups are still crying foul over remaining provisions in the Act. For example, the Act may allow thegovernment to seize all computers and devices from a home if a single, pirated MP3 is found on one machine. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the DOJ will resort to such draconian measures in enforcing private-party IP rights.
The Act was roundly supported by major industry groups, such as the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”), who contend that the Act will enhance global competitiveness and strengthen American creativity and jobs.
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